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Posts tagged ‘children are people too’

Children Take Up Space (and Notice When We Don’t Notice)

We were at the movie theater on post the other night seeing some new movie or another, which is the great thing about the post theater, because they show movies for free, so if we are on base and can’t think of anything to do we wander over and see whatever is playing and sometimes lose track of what we saw and when. It might have been the new Robin Hood movie, because it was so very busy that we left The Guy to go wait in line for snacks while Kid and I secured seats. It was pretty crowded and we were having some difficulty finding just three seats in a row (a lot of this was due to the fact that people were NOT following the rules, that you can not just plop your bag down in seats and wander off, you need to have people physically in most of the seats saving one or two of them, or something along those lines, but I have found that a lot of U.S. people on this post believe that the rules don’t apply to them /digressing).

We wandered down closer to the screen than my neck can tolerate, and then back up towards the back, and struck gold with perfect seats on the back wall between the two entrances. Just as I was settling us in, a Filipina woman I know from Kid’s old Tae Kwon Do class (she goes to a different one now) came up to us with her young daughter, who is break-your-heart adorable and so small I could put her in my pocket, like Thumbelina. She and Kid used to get on really well in class, even as she is about half Kid’s height, and Kid was protective when other kids would pick on her for being so young. She has the most beautiful dark eyes, and at this moment they were filled with tears, and her chin was trembling like she was just holding on to not letting out in a full on wail right then and there.

She had seen us wander down by their seats, closer to the front, and had said “Hi!” to Kid in her tiny voice, and in the hubbub of the pre-show settling in we hadn’t heard her, and had turned around and headed to where we sat now. The young dear was so upset that we hadn’t seen her, that we hadn’t noticed her there, taking up space, trying to get our attention, that it nigh broke her heart. Her mother brought her up to say hello to us, and I gave her a warm hug and apologized for not seeing her before, and Kid said hi and did the same. Sorry that there was no room to sit together, they went back to their seats and we stayed in ours, and Guy joined us and we settled in for what was Not a Bedschel passing hit (I watch these things for free so you don’t have to spend money on them, peeps!).

The point of this 500 word story is that, like Renee will often tell you, children take up space. They sit there, and they exist in our world, and like That Thread of Angry Making at Feministe (most of you should know the one) that went on and on to prove that we as feminists, womanists, and social justice activists (and I’ll let you know where I fall on that scale when I figure it out) really fail hard at seeing children as what they truly are; a marginalized class of people who need their rights fought for and protected.

People of Color, People with Disabilities, LGBTQAI People, plenty of marginalized persons have movements behind them, and yet in social justice circles people feel free to openly say “I hate children” without repercussions. Children are routinely beaten in the name of “good order and discipline” (and parents are blamed for not doing so in the name of “not being attentive parents”) and no one pays attention. We expect children to be silent unless spoken to, and we often walk around and talk around them as if they aren’t even there. And possibly more importantly, like our little friend, they notice when we don’t notice them. They notice when we fail to take them into consideration. They notice when they don’t matter. They notice when the world, when those who are meant to love them, don’t fucking see them or hear them.

Children take up space in our world, and they are defenseless against the harm that is done to them every day, and I don’t understand why the protection of their voices and their rights is not considered a feminist/womanist/social justice issue outright, without having to start a Bloglandia Kerfluffle. Protecting their rights doesn’t mean you have to give up your declaration of being “Child-free-by-choice” or that anyone is asking you to be a human incubator. Protecting the rights of children doesn’t compromise your right to Choice. It won’t force you to be a parent any more than being an LGBTQAI ally means you have to Gay Marry. No one is asking you to even enjoy the presence of children or babysit our Kid so we can go out and enjoy an evening with conversation that doesn’t involve Harry Potter references. (OK, even if it was just us, that conversation probably comes up. LOL.) Or Star Wars. (O WAIT THAT’S ME.)

Children take up space, and when we don’t notice them, they hurt. It isn’t just a mother’s issue to let you know that. Children notice that we don’t do enough to give a damn about them, whether they know about social justice or not (some of them do, mine does). It hurts them. It should hurt more of us to realize this.

Aftermath

It is very likely that you have all read the story of the very unfortunate woman, Torry Ann Hansen, who was done wrong by the very deceitful Russian government who was so nasty to her. The poor dear, Torry Ann Hansen. All Torry Ann Hansen wanted was to be a very good mum. See, Torry Ann Hansen is very kind, and wanted to take a nice displaced Russian boy into her home and give him love and cookies and smiles and hugs. But that isn’t what happened.

See, they lied to Torry Ann Hansen! They gave her a broken boy! He wasn’t right! He was just wrong and didn’t fit Torry Ann Hansen’s life properly! How was Torry Ann Hansen ever to possibly love this boy when he just was so not right?

So, Torry Ann Hansen did the only thing that she could do, given the unjust circumstances that befell her.

Torry Ann Hansen had her mother, Nancy Hansen, do some internet investigation, bought a ticket, packed the kid up on an airplane, and paid some dude to pick him up in Moscow. The dude walked the kid to the Education Ministry and dropped him off at the door.

Torry Ann Hansen is just the victim here.

Let’s forget that a boy, a seven year old boy, whose birth mother was an alcoholic, has lived in and probably suffered a little bit of neglect, in an institutionalized orphanage. Let’s forget that this boy will probably never forget that this woman, Torry Ann Hansen, promised to love him unconditionally, as parents are supposed to love their children — and adopted children are supposed to be loved just like biological children unless I missed some memo — and his most recent memory of parental sentiment was “you are broken, kid, so I have to return you to the manufacturer”. Or close enough, because that is how Torry Ann Hansen has treated this boy. As if he is a broken iPod or something.

Where are all of the records that show that she took him to doctors and therapists and counselors to get help? Where are all of the records from the home visits from the social workers who check up on adoptive families that show that there were attachment issues? Because you better believe that there are programs that help assist families like Torry Ann Hansen’s with these problems. As part of the fun package deal of adoption.

Oh, there weren’t any, because strangely, they moved, and the agency had no forwarding information by which to contact Torry Ann Hansen after their January home visit. For all they know Torry Ann Hansen started beating that boy after that first home visit and moved to hide from them.

Where are this boy’s school records? Surely a teacher or a school administrator could tell someone that he was having behavioral problems. They would certainly have notified someone that he was having trouble adjusting to his new life in the U.S. That is what school teachers are trained to do in situations like this. Was he even enrolled in school? Because he was certainly school aged! They had him for months, and he had no U.S. birth certificate. Why?

But at the root of all of this was that Torry Ann Hansen, in the absence on any evidence to the contrary, is just a jerk who gave up on a child who may or may not have been difficult. We have no idea if he had problems, because they didn’t seek outside help! All we know is that when shit got tough Torry Ann Hansen gave up. Instead of seeking out resources and trying to offer love and support to a child at a crucial time in his development Torry Ann Hansen cast him aside and gave him the very clear message that something is wrong with him.

That will live with him a long time.

Instead of offering him love she offered him rejection and a swift kick out the U.S. And in light of all the resources that could have been available to Torry Ann Hansen if she and Nancy Hansen had sought them out and not suspiciously moved away, characteristic of an abuser who is trying to hide what they are doing to a helpless and voiceless child who has no agency of his or her own, I feel no pity at all for Torry Ann Hansen.

Because, you understand, no matter what this boy says, it will be his word against Torry Ann Hansen’s, and in this country we have a horrible habit of not believing children when they speak. At least, we believe that children are always coerced when they speak, and that they can never talk of their own free will. Children remain voiceless victims who continue to speak to us, because no one really gives a damn what they say. A child’s voice is never stronger than the adults who speak against them. I hope that it isn’t so in this case.

And yes, Nancy Hansen, what your daughter, Torry Ann Hansen, did most certainly was child abandonment, and it was child endangerment. How do you know that the stranger you hired was genuine? What were his credentials? What reason did you have to believe he would do what you paid him to do once he had your money? Was he an unaccompanied minor guardian with the airline? No?

Torry Ann Hansen never saw Artyom Savelyev as a child. Not from anything we can see. Torry Ann Hansen saw him as something to try on, to alter (she tried to change his name to Justin, ya know, b/c those funny foreign names are so tough to say! Amirite?). He didn’t fit.

So Torry Ann Hansen sent him back.

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